The Joy of Smoking
Out on the town, you watch as your good friend Bill lights-up and sucks down a deliciously deep puff, and then lays the pack on the table between you. Cindy, your talkative co-worker, blows smoke your way while gloriously waving her cigarette like a conductor's baton. Arthur and Denise, two smoking strangers, gravitate toward one and other and engage in lite-hearted conversation while guarding a store's entrance. While stopped at a light, a deep relaxing puff is inhaled by Ellen in the car beside you. "Oh but to again share in the joys of smoking," you think to yourself, "to puff, to taste, to blow, then relax." The joys of smoking???? Joy? Joy?
Yesterday, Bill stepped in a pile of dog dung but failed to notice until he turned around and was puzzled by the strange brown tracks across his sky blue carpet that seemed to lead to his right shoe. Bill's sniffer has been almost useless for over 20 years. A pack and a half a day smoker, he has experienced two cases of pneumonia over the past 3 winters, with the last one putting him in bed for 6 days. Struggling for each breath, Bill still managed to smoke a couple each day. His doctor has pleaded with him to quit but after a half dozen failed attempts, discouragement fills his mind.
Cindy's two teenage sons are onto her almost daily about her smoking. They can't walk anywhere as a family without her cigarette smoke finding the boys. When it does, they make her want to crawl into a hole as they both start coughing and gaging as if dying. When smoking, they never walk together, it's either ahead or behind for lonely mom. She dreads the seven hour drive to her parent's house next week, but she can no longer make excuses for visiting only once in 3 years. Cindy knows that they'll pass three rest areas along the interstate but it will be difficult to fib about having to go to the bathroom at all three. Two will have to do.
She skips making breakfast to ensure that the boys will demand that they stop to eat along the way. Cindy shakes her head after coming back in from loading up the car. Not only does she have a cigarette in her hand, the ashtray on the table is smoking one too. Before leaving town she stops to fill up with gas while managing three quick puffs, as she feels far more secure after stuffing two new packs into her purse.
Arthur, a 54 year old 3 pack a day smoker, has large cell lung cancer in the right lobe. The slow growing tumor is now almost 6 months old and a little bigger than an orange. Arthur doesn't yet know. Although he has twice coughed up a small bit of bloody mucus, he quickly dismissed it both times. Frankly, he just doesn't want to know. There is a bit of chest pain but that's nothing new, as chest tightness has occurred on and off for the past couple of years. Additional thick bloody mucus will soon scare Arthur into a doctor visit and a chest x-ray. The delay will cost him a lung. Over the next 3 years he will battle hard to save his life. In the end, he will lose.
A workaholic, Ellen has done very well financially. Her life seems to have everything except for companionship. A three pack a day smoker, she constantly smells like a walking tobacco factory and often turns heads and noses when she walks into a room. A serious chain-smoker, she tells those around her that she enjoys her cigarettes. Deep down, she believes that she just can't quit. Her car windows, house blinds and forehead continually share a common guest - a thin oily film of tar and other chemicals. Ellen has a date next Friday, a two pack a day smoker named Ed.
Denise started smoking at age 13 while her lungs were still developing. Constantly clearing her throat, her breathing capacity continues to slowly deteriorate. Smoking wrinkles above and below her lips make her look far older than her 32 years. Fifteen pounds over weight to begin with, Denise successfully quit for almost 3 weeks, before throwing in the towel when she notice that she'd outgrown her entire wardrobe. Two months later, still depressed over her defeat, the new weight remains with her. Already on high-blood pressure medication, she is about to become a regular user of anti-depressants. Fortunately for Denise, a friend will tell her about an on-line support group called Freedom, where she will soon taste victory over her addiction while receiving lots of wonderful advice about controlling her weight : )